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Nov 20 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

November 20, 2022

Welcome and Prayer: Nancy Lopez

Morning Talk: chuck smith, jr.

And when [Jesus] came to the place, he said to [his disciples], “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, it you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation Luke 22:40-46

Intro: “Jesus was only thirty-three”

William Barclay made that observation
Barclay, “Jesus was only thirty-three, and no one wants to die at thirty-three.”
– for some reason, that simple statement caught me off guard
• I was reading a familiar story–that’s all
◦ I wasn’t thinking about the whole story,
◦ or connecting with Jesus in his real-life context
• being reminded of his age, stirred up in me empathy for him,
◦ and I felt myself being pulled closer to him
◦ my youngest child is older than Jesus was that night
– we have followed Jesus for seventeen weeks,
• watching him pray, listening to his prayers and to his teaching and parables on prayer
◦ an underlying tension that has been running through the story, at this point explodes
• the conflict isn’t between Jesus and the scribes, Pharisees, or chief priests
◦ it is with everything that is wrong in the world, that ruins people and opposes God
◦ it is the ultimate battle of good versus evil

For a moment, Jesus behaves in a way we’ve not seen before

He pours his heart out in words we’ve never heard him say before
– for a moment, it looks like he is losing his footing
• but then he regains his composure, gets up, and goes to cross
– during all this, we hear his final instruction to the disciples about prayer
• and also his own last words of prayer (according to Luke)

Given the circumstances of chapters 22 and 23,
– I could title this talk, “Prayer In Times of Crisis”
• or simply, “Crisis Prayer”
• but that doesn’t mean that these passages will give us another scripted prayer like the Lord’s Prayer
◦ or that we’ll learn a method for how to pray in crisis
◦ in fact, both of those ideas are absurd
– the nature of crisis, is that it’s not something you plan,
• and we don’t know in advance what emergency will arise or what it will look like
◦ we don’t know how we will react: will we panic? collapse? come out fighting?
• a method or prayer composed in peace, may not work in calamity,
◦ when intense trouble rolls over us or sudden danger looms before us
◦ we may not be able to muster more than a cry for help
“Lord, save me!” “I believe; help my unbelief!” “What must I do to be saved?”

I think it’s best if we look for general thoughts about prayer
– if we develop right habits of prayer,
• we will pray right prayers when needed
– most important, is that we secure our connection with God
• constantly returning to his presence in the here and now
• as long as our souls can find rest in God,
◦ our prayers will be acceptable – with or without words

Jesus gave the disciples a reason to pray in that moment

“Pray that you may not enter into temptation”
– this was the last line of the prayer he taught them in chapter 11
“and lead us not into temptation”
• this word has a dual meaning: enticement and test
• many things must be put through trials to see if they work
◦ how much stress can a metal take before giving out?
(this matters to me when I step into an airplane and wonder about the wings)
◦ fire is used to refine gold
– even though we have said the Lord’s Prayer many times, it is still a surprise:
• that we can pray our way around, away from, or through temptation
• we are asking God to not give us more than we can take
◦ and through prayer we can enlist his help and strength

Jesus prayed for what he wanted

He did not begin, “Forgive me for asking something for myself,” but
“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me”
– I hear an echo in these words – it’s the voice of a leper
when he saw Jesus, he fell on hi face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean” (Lk. 5:12)
• when Mark tells story, he says Jesus was moved with compassion
And he stretched out his hand and touched him saying, “I will; be clean”
• now, in Gethsemane, the Son kneels on the ground and uses the same appeal
“Father, if you are willing
◦ it is as if he wants his Father to be moved with compassion as he was for the leper
◦ it is a tender and tragic moment

In prayer, Jesus surrendered to his Father’s will
Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done

We also come to a point of surrender, eventually
– but it makes all the difference if we surrender through prayer
• it is important to surrender face-to-face with God
• otherwise, it won’t be a real surrender, but just a giving up
◦ we may do nor more than resign ourselves to fate or bad luck
Catherine Marshall introduced the idea of “The Prayer of Relinquishment” in an article for Guidepost Magazine. In it she explains, “The Prayer of Relinquishment must not be interpreted negatively. It does not let us lie down in the dust of a godless universe and steel ourselves just for the worst. Rather it says, ‘This is my situation at the moment. I’ll face the reality of it. But I’ll also accept willingly whatever a loving Father sends.’ Acceptance, therefore, never slams the door on hope.”
• I don’t think we can jump to this point of surrender from square one
• we first have to learn, from experience, that God is a loving Father

Agony increased the intensity of Jesus’ prayer
And being in agony he prayed more earnestly

It may be embarrassing to discover that it takes an intense pain or grief to improve our prayer life
– last week I was asked to pray for man who had thrown his back out and was in a lot of pain
• walking Kona near his neighborhood, I remembered to pray for him, but only that one time
◦ then on Friday morning, I threw my back out, and I’ve prayed for him every day since–earnestly

Jesus woke his disciples to pray

I’m convinced that for our prayers to be meaningful, to be worthwhile,
– requires our most aware state of mind
– I’ve talked about this enough to not go over it again now

Jesus prayed the most generous prayer imaginable
Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” Luke 23:32-34

I would never tell someone in crisis, “Pray that your tormentor will be shown mercy”
or
“Pray God will forgive the person who murdered your child”
“Pray God will forgive your rapist”
“Pray God will forgive the accountant that swindled you”
my first thought: This is Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior, who prayed for those who were nailing him to the cross
• he worked miracles – he was, in himself, a miracle
• I don’t expect us to be capable of this infinite generosity of grace
◦ but I do admire and reverence him for his compassion and grace
my second thought: But there are believers who have done this
• every year we have seen them in courtrooms,
◦ telling the convicted felon that because they are followers of Jesus, they forgive the convict
• it is not that they were able to do this instantly or at the time of the violation
◦ but they were led by God and by his love to forgive; to let mercy triumph over hatred
◦ witnessing this always takes my breath away

Then, at the end, there was Jesus’ dying prayer
Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” And having said this, he breathed his last Luke 23:46

This is his second quotation of a psalm from the cross
(the first was from Psa. 22:1, this quote is from Psa. 31:5)
– for me, personally, I feel a cushion of comfort in his last breath
• he is not succumbing to the torture of the cross,
• he’s giving his life, releasing his spirit, putting himself into the hands of his Father
– my oldest daughter, Jennifer, has five children–each of their births was assisted by a midwife
• a midwife is sometimes referred to as a “doula” (Grk. female servant/slave)
◦ did you know there are end-of-life midwives? Death doulas?
◦ they assist the dying (and the person’s family) with emotional and spiritual support through the transition
• it’s natural to fear crossing this threshold
◦ but I hope that we all will breathe our last with this prayer on our lips,
Father, into your hands I commit my spirit

Conclusion: We have now finished this wonderful prayer journey

Luke, as our tour guide, has shown us in Jesus’ example what he had taught others;
that is, that “we ought always to pray and not lose heart” (Lk. 18:1);
that we can pray in all situations;
that in our darkest hours we cannot give up on prayer or on God
Every thought can be turned into a prayer
Nothing is too trivial, awful, or juvenile
If something is of concern to you, it is of concern to God;
casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you (1 Pet. 5:7)
The sooner we know and trust God’s unconditional love for us,
the sooner we will realize the safest place for us to be is in prayer

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